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CNN banner did not say Boulder shooting suspect was ‘morally white’

March 25, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: CNN displayed a banner during coverage of the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, stating the gunman was “factually Arab, but morally white.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. This manipulated image originated as satire. A recording of the broadcast and a CNN representative both confirmed the network didn’t display such text.

THE FACTS: A manipulated screenshot of a CNN broadcast was shared thousands of times on Facebook this week, fooling social media users who did not realize it originated as satire.

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The manipulated image showed CNN host Brooke Baldwin and correspondent Lucy Kafanov in  a split-screen display, with Kafanov reporting from Boulder at “1:01 p.m. MT.” A banner below the journalists read, “DEVELOPING STORY: INVESTIGATION: SHOOTER WAS FACTUALLY ARAB, BUT MORALLY WHITE.”

However, a recording of the same moment on Tuesday in an online TV news archive shows the text on the screen actually read, “COLORADO SHOOTING SUSPECT BOOKED INTO JAIL TODAY.”

Further investigation of the fabricated image shows it originated on the Christian satire website The Babylon Bee.

Emily Kuhn, senior director of communications at CNN Digital Worldwide, confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that the banner was fabricated and didn’t match the network’s font.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, the 21-year-old suspect in a Boulder supermarket shooting that killed 10 people on Monday, appeared in court Thursday for the first time, where his attorney asked for a health assessment “to address his mental illness.” 

According to two law enforcement officials, Alissa was born in Syria in 1999, emigrated to the U.S. as a toddler and later became a U.S. citizen. He would need to be a citizen to buy a gun. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity. 

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536